Gang-like activity pervades Glenwood carnival
June 23, 2005
Two groups of young men stood on opposite corners of the Grand Avenue and 14th Street intersection last Friday evening and flashed gang signs at each other. On Saturday, a police officer working the Strawberry Days carnival told a man to take off his gang colors and emblems or he couldn’t go inside. The man told the officer he didn’t have any right to tell him where he could and couldn’t go, and swung at the officer, Glenwood Springs Police Chief Terry Wilson said. Finally, on Sunday, tension that had built all weekend broke loose at the carnival in a fight between a group of six to 12 men, Wilson said. After a foot pursuit about 10:15 p.m., police arrested Pedro Tamirez-Topete, 18, of Basalt, and Carlos Silva-Landa, 19, of Carbondale, on suspicion of assault during the fight, and three other individuals, ages 16-17, on charges of assault and illegal weapons possession.The men involved were primarily Latinos from different towns up and down the Roaring Fork Valley, Wilson said. Wilson hesitated to call the groups gangs, but said, “We have had, over the years, small groups that are conducting themselves in ways that are consistent with the way gangs would act.”Wilson doesn’t see much in the way of gang activity all year, except at Strawberry Days, and only at the carnival. “It was actually a darn good Strawberry Days,” Wilson said. But this year, as in previous years, the police department had problems at the carnival. Wilson acknowledged the name of the nationwide Latino gang Sur 13 spray-painted on walls around Glenwood, but he said gang activity shows up only once a year. “It’s the carnival,” he said. “That’s consistently been the place where these folks end up.”Wilson didn’t know what it was about the Strawberry Days carnival that attracted trouble but said it had happened for the past few years. Four or five years ago, police heard rumors of a big showdown between groups that was supposed to happen at the Strawberry Days carnival, but police arrested a leader for previous threats made to a police officer, and the rest of the group went home, Wilson said. The reason for trouble is a mystery, but “It’s a repeated annual pattern of behavior,” he said.